On August 18, Texas Tech women’s basketball announced the signing of a new head coach in Krista Gerlich. Less than 24 hours later, her first high school recruit was already knocking at the door.
To the scene came four-star prospect, according to espnW, Chantae Embry, who verbally committed to Tech right after Gerlich’s arrival. However, it was no coincidence, as Embry and Gerlich had already been in communication.
“I built a relationship with Gerlich at UTA,” Embry said. “Then she got the position at Tech and it seemed like a perfect fit.”
Gerlich spent 14 years at UTA, amassing 289 wins as a head coach and accumulating numerous firsts for the program on her historic coaching trail; but Gerlich always seemed to keep an eye out for Embry while doing so.
“We’ve had many talks and were on zoom calls while she was at UTA. She always talked about her visions for me.” said Embry.
Despite the unquestionable talent of Embry that caught the eyes of many Division 1 programs, her path to becoming a collegiate basketball signee has not been the easiest.
In her sophomore year, Embry suffered an ACL injury that left her sidelined. In what usually requires six to eight months of recovery, Embry was curbed for one year, she said.
“The journey was really difficult for me. I had a lot of days where I wanted to give up,” Embry said. “Thankfully, though, I had the help of my mom and people surrounding me that helped me get through it.”
And Embry did just that.
The season following her injury, the Prague, Oklahoma, native averaged 16.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, all team highs.
She led her team to an astonishing 24-1 record on the season as the No. 1-ranked team in the state and No. 38 in the nation, according to MaxPreps. However, the season was cut short due to COVID-19.
Embry showcased her mental and physical toughness on the trail to recovery and also during the season, a characteristic highly touted by Gerlich.
Upon signing, Gerlich said one of the most exciting aspects of Embry was her work ethic and winning mindset.
Embry’s hard work was only elevated by her injury, as it serves as a reminder for her to make the most of her opportunity to play the game she loves.
“Every day when I go into practice or to workout or training, my mindset always goes back to the fact I could have it all taken away like I did my sophomore year.” Embry said. “I just want to work hard each and every day and not take my gifts for granted.”
Her hard work behind the scenes reflected to game day, and quickly caught the attention of college programs.
In fact, Embry was once committed to Oklahoma State, while also housing offers from Arkansas, Texas A&M, TCU, LSU, Kansas and many other Power 5 programs.
The 6-foot-1 forward had not originally put Tech or UTA in her top four choices, either, but Gerlich and Tech’s campus drew her interest quickly, she said.
“I really liked the campus … I really loved the feel of it and the facilities are amazing.” Embry said.
“I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity to play under her [Gerlich] because I really think that she’s going to help me get better at the next level. Her positive energy is amazing and there’s so many great things that I could say about her.” Said Embry.
But the 2021, four-star, Tech signee is committed for a reason, her on-court prowess.
Embry is a versatile, skilled, forward that has no restrictions on either end of the court.
From her athleticism, to her quickness, to her size and skill. She encompasses the abilities of a true, positionless basketball player.
“The best part of my game is I can switch positions,” Embry said. “I really think I could play the one through five.”
Embry’s highlight tape is reflective, as she has clips dribbling the ball up the court as one of, if not the tallest player in between the lines, hitting stepback threes and showing an array of post moves. But the tape does not stop there.
She also has the ability to move her feet laterally and guard shorter players on offense, which is invaluable in the pick and roll game when needed to switch, hedge or drop on defense.
Embry said she draws a lot of comparisons to NBA legend Lebron James and also likes to take after WNBA stars Maya Moore and Candice Parker.
All three fit the description of Embry’s vastly skilled and versatile game.
Embry is one of three Lady Raiders coach Gerlich introduced in her inaugural signing class, along with Saga Ukkonen and Lana Wenger.
Now, the trio will look to wrap up their primary basketball careers before beginning the collegiate experience come 2021.